Linden tree

Hello and welcome to our Mailbox programme in which we read from your letters and answer your questions. First of all, let's hear two views on the role of international radio sent to us by our listeners as part of a debate we launched earlier this year.

"Although this is the age of multimedia, in our part of the world, radio is still the cheapest and fastest way to get information and to know what's happening around the world. Thank you very much for informing, entertaining and educating us."

And Radio Prague's regular listener Mr Mukesh Kumar, also from India, who describes himself as a radio enthusiast, has sent us a newspaper article on a study proving that watching too much TV makes children do badly at school and reduces their chances of completing their degree. "Therefore," Mr Kumar writes, "go away from the stupid box and stick with your short-wave receiver."

Thank you very much for those comments and Mr Kumar also has a question to ask.

Linden tree
"Which tree is the Czech national tree?"

The Czech national tree is the linden tree, "lipa" in Czech, or tilia cordata in Latin. It is a honey producing tree, up to 30 metres tall, which can live for several centuries. Linden trees are usually planted in avenues or you can find a linden tree standing on its own in the middle of a field. At the moment linden trees here in the Czech Republic are just past their blossom time. They are usually in bloom around the time of the summer solstice and in the evenings the air around them is filled with a wonderful smell - that is if you're not allergic to pollen, like for example Mr Junji Kondo from Japan, who sent us this e-mail:

"I suffer from pollen allergy. Recently I was on a trip to Germany and my allergy suddenly stopped. Do Czech people have such kind of allergy? Nowadays many Japanese wear masks on the nose and mouth to prevent pollen from coming in."

According to data published on the website, around 20 percent of Czech population suffer from some kind of allergy - that is some 2 million people - and among children the number is even higher and still rising. Also, there are some 500,000 people suffering from asthma.

Onto a different topic:

Mrs Blazenka Wostratzky from the United States has sent us this question:

"When is the Sokol Slet in 2006? I and my family wish to attend."

The big festival of the Sokol sports movement, known as "slet", will start on Saturday, July 1, 2006 and last for a week until the 7th of July. The 14th slet will be opened at a ceremony in Prague's Sazka Arena. The main gymnastic exhibitions will take place on the 5th and 6th of July at Strahov Stadium which was actually built before the war especially for the slet. The Sokol movement was founded in 1862 by Dr Miroslav Tyrs and Jindrich Fuegner as a sports organisation, but it always stressed all-round fitness, morality, and patriotism - the ideals of the time of the Czech national revival. The first festival took place on June 18th 1882, on Strelecky Island in Prague. 700 men exercised under the leadership of Miroslav Tyrs and some 1,600 Sokols dressed in traditional costumes formed the procession.

If you'd like to find out more information about Sokol, the official website has English pages where you can find basic information on the history of the movement.

And we'll stay with history as it's time now to repeat Radio Prague's listeners' competition question for July:

"On June 10, 1923 a boy called Jan was born in Czechoslovakia's easternmost province of Ruthenia, now part of Ukraine, close to the Romanian border. The family was extremely poor and in his adult age, our man claimed he had got his first pair of shoes at the age of seven. Both his parents died in a Nazi concentration camp but young Jan managed to escape to Britain where he joined the armed forces and changed his name. He started a career in publishing and he was a Labour MP between 1964 and 1970 but he was most famous for having built a publishing empire that spanned the world. In November 1991 he died under mysterious circumstances. Who was he?"

You have one more week to send us the answer to the usual address, Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, the Czech Republic or to [email protected].